Making big changes to your lifestyle, whether that’s quitting smoking, being more active, or adopting a healthier diet, isn’t always easy. In the last 12 months, Newcastle resident Stephen Kirkland has managed all three. With a HbA1c level of 67, Stephen was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and decided 2017 was the year he needed to take control of his health.
His GP enlisted Changing Health to help him make that happen. And in just three months, he’s seen incredible results. “I wanted to get my diabetes under control,” he says. “I didn’t consider myself massively overweight, but I knew my BMI was higher than it should be. I didn’t want to go on diabetes meds – I just wanted to make a change.”
Stephen scheduled regular phone appointments with Kirsten Ashley, one of Changing Health’s expert behavioural change coaches, to help him work out the best diet and exercise plan for his circumstances.
“It was nice to have Kirsten showing such an interest. She was always giving me new ideas, tips, regular contact to make sure I was on track – it was a great support mechanism. I’ve made some serious changes: lots more exercise. I was conscious I wasn’t getting enough with work, what with long hours sat at a desk.
“Now I’m taking long walks, especially at the weekends, making a point of walking to places like the supermarket rather than driving. I’m climbing the stairs when I get home – and I live on the fourteenth floor! It takes a good five minutes, but you just have to put your mind to it.
“Kirsten sent me some quite strenuous short-period exercises. I told her I’m usually working away from home, and I don’t like to be bouncing around in the digs! So she didn’t push me on that. Instead I’m getting more exercise spending time with my son – cycling and swimming.”
Stephen put the Changing Health app to good use too. “It’s helpful to keep a diary of your meals – I could show Kirsten the photos of what I was eating and how big my portions were. She could see the number of steps I was doing per day too.”
Twelve weeks on, it was time for a visit to the GP to assess his progress. There was excellent news. Stephen has reduced his blood glucose (HbA1c) from 67, on the way to severe Type 2 diabetes and likely complications, to just 48 – a sliver above returning to the pre-diabetes stage.
He won’t be leaving it there. “I’m definitely keeping this lifestyle up to get my blood sugar down to prediabetes levels. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to put the diabetes into remission.”
“The Changing Health experience was all very positive. If I’d known I could take up the programme earlier, I’d have jumped at it!”
Meet Stephen’s behavioural change coach Kirsten Ashley on our team page.
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